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The Flash

Posted on: Mei 9, 2009


The Flash is a name shared by several fictional comic book superheroes from the DC Comics universe. Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert, the original Flash first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940).[3]

Once nicknamed the Scarlet Speedster, all incarnations of the Flash possess “super-speed”, which includes the ability to run and move extremely fast, use superhuman reflexes and seemingly violate certain laws of physics. Thus far, four different characters, each of whom somehow gained the power of “super-speed”, have assumed the identity of the Flash: Jay Garrick (1940-), Barry Allen (1956-1985, 2008-), Wally West (1986-2006, 2007-), and Bart Allen (2006-2007). Before Wally and Bart’s ascension to the mantle of the Flash, they were both Flash proteges under the same name: Kid Flash.

The second incarnation of the Flash, Barry Allen, is generally considered the first hero of the Silver Age of comic books and the superhero has remained one of DC‘s most popular ever since. Each version of the Flash has been a key member of at least one of DC’s three premier teams: the Justice Society of America, the Justice League, and the Teen Titans. Wally West has recently rejoined the Justice League, and Barry Allen recently returned to life in the pages of Final Crisis.

The Barry Allen version of the character (with Wally West elements) was featured in a live action television series in 1990, starring John Wesley Shipp. The Wally West version of the Flash (but with many elements of Barry Allen’s story) is featured in the animated series Justice League.

Publication history

[edit] Golden Age

The Flash first appeared in the Golden Age Flash Comics #1 (Jan. 1940), from All-American Publications, one of three companies that would eventually merge to form DC Comics. Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert, this Flash was Jay Garrick, a college student who gained his speed through the inhalation of hard water vapors (later retconned into heavy water vapors), and who wore a winged metal helmet reminiscent of the mythological Greek god Hermes.[3] He is notable as the first super-speedster in comics, and one of the first to have a single super-power as opposed to multi-powered heroes such as Superman.

Jay Garrick was a popular character in the 1940s, supporting both Flash Comics and All-Flash Quarterly (later published bi-monthly as simply All-Flash); co-starring in Comic Cavalcade; and being a charter member of the Justice Society of America, the first superhero team, whose adventures ran in All Star Comics. With superheroes’ post-war decline in popularity, Flash Comics was canceled with issue #104 (1949). The Justice Society’s final Golden Age story ran in All Star Comics #57 (1951; the title itself continued, as All Star Western).

[edit] Silver Age

In 1956, DC Comics successfully revived superheroes, ushering in what became known as the Silver Age of comic books. Rather than bringing back the same Golden Age heroes, as Atlas Comics, the 1950s precursor of Marvel Comics, unsuccessfully tried to do, DC reimagined them as new characters for the modern age. The Flash was the first revival, in the aptly named tryout comic book Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956).

This new Flash was Barry Allen, a police scientist who gained super-speed when bathed by chemicals after a shelf of them was struck by lightning. He adopted the name The Flash after reading a comic book featuring the Golden Age Flash.[3] After several more appearances in Showcase, Allen’s character was given his own title, The Flash, the first issue of which was #105 (resuming where Flash Comics had left off).

The Silver Age Flash proved popular enough that several other Golden Age heroes were revived in new incarnations. A new superhero team, the Justice League of America, was also created, with the Flash as a charter member.

[edit] “The Flashes of Two Worlds”

The Flash also introduced a much-imitated plot device into superhero comics when it was revealed that Garrick and Allen existed on fictional parallel worlds. Their powers allowed them to cross the dimensional boundary between worlds, and the men became good friends. Flash of Two Worlds (The Flash (vol. 1) #123) was the first crossover in which a Golden Age character met a Silver Age character. Soon, there were crossovers between the entire Justice League and the Justice Society; their respective teams began an annual get-together which endured from the early 1960s until the mid-1980s.

Allen’s adventures continued in his own title until the advent of Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Flash ended as a series with issue #350. Allen’s life had become considerably confused in the early 1980s, and DC elected to end his adventures and pass the mantle on to another character. Allen died heroically in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 (1985). Thanks to his ability to travel through time, he would continue to appear occasionally in the years to come.

[edit] Modern Age

The third Flash was Wally West, introduced in The Flash (vol. 1) #110 (Dec. 1959) as Kid Flash. West, Allen’s nephew by marriage, gained the Flash’s powers through an accident identical to Allen’s. Adopting the identity of Kid Flash, he maintained membership in the Teen Titans for years. Following Allen’s death, West adopted the Flash identity in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 and was given his own series, beginning with The Flash (vol. 2) #1 in 1987.[3] Many issues began with the catchphrase: “My name is Wally West. I’m the fastest man alive.”

Due to the Infinite Crisis miniseries and the “One Year Later” jump in time in the DC Universe, DC canceled The Flash (vol. 2) in January 2006 at #230. A new series, The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, began on June 21, 2006. The initial story arc of this series, written by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo with art by Ken Lashley, focused on Bart Allen’s acceptance of the role of the Flash.

Flash: Fastest Man Alive was canceled with issue #13. In its place The Flash (vol. 2) was revived with issue #231, with Mark Waid as the initial writer. Waid also wrote All-Flash #1, which acted as a bridge between the two series.[4] DC had solicited Flash: Fastest Man Alive through issue #15. All Flash #1 replaced issue #14 and The Flash (vol. 2) #231 replaced issue #15 in title and interior creative team only. The covers and cover artists were as solicited by DC, and the information text released was devoid of any plot information.[5][6]

In 2009, Barry Allen will make a full fledged return to the DCU-proper in The Flash: Rebirth, a six-issue miniseries by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver.[7]

[edit] Fictional biographies

While several other individuals have used the name Flash, these have lived either on other parallel worlds, or in the future. Garrick, Allen and West are the best-known exemplars of the identity.

[edit] Jay Garrick
Main article: Flash (Jay Garrick)
Artwork for the cover of JSA #78 (Fec, 2005). Featuring Jay Garrick with art by Alex Ross.

Jason Peter “Jay” Garrick was a college student in January 1940 who accidentally inhaled heavy water vapors after falling asleep in his laboratory where he had been smoking. As a result, he found that he could run at superhuman speed and had similarly fast reflexes. After a brief career as a college football star, he donned a red shirt with a lightning bolt and a stylized metal helmet with wings (based on images of the Greek deity Hermes), and began to fight crime as the Flash. His first case involved battling the “Faultless Four”, a group of blackmailers. Jay kept his identity secret for years without a mask by continually vibrating his body while in public so that any photograph of his face would be blurred. Although originally from Earth-Two, he was incorporated into the history of New Earth following the Crisis on Infinite Earths and is still active as the Flash operating out of Keystone City. He is a member of the Justice Society.

[edit] Barry Allen
Main article: Flash (Barry Allen)
Teaser image of The Flash: Rebirth featuring Barry Allen. Art by Ethan Van Sciver and Moose Baumann.

Bartholomew Henry “Barry” Allen was a police scientist that had a reputation for being very slow, deliberate, and frequently late, which frustrated his fiancée, Iris West. One night, as he was preparing to leave work, a lightning bolt shattered a case full of chemicals and spilled them all over Allen. As a result, Allen found that he could run extremely fast and had matching reflexes. He donned a set of red tights sporting a lightning bolt (reminiscent of the original), dubbed himself the Flash (after his childhood hero in the comic books, Jay Garrick), and became a crime fighter. In his civilian identity, he stores the costume compressed in a special ring via the use of a special gas that could compress cloth fibers to a very small fraction of their normal size.

Allen sacrificed his life for the universe in the 1985 maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, and remained dead for over twenty years after that story’s publication. With the 2008 series Final Crisis, Allen returned to the DC Universe and will return to full prominence as the Flash in the 2009 series The Flash: Rebirth.[8]

[edit] Wally West
Main article: Wally West
Artwork for the cover of Flash vol. 2, #207 (Apr, 2004). Featuring Wally West with art by Michael Turner.

Wallace Rudolph West was the nephew of Iris West and Barry Allen by marriage, and was introduced in The Flash (vol. 1) #110 (1959). When West was about ten years old, he was visiting his uncle’s police laboratory, and the freak accident that gave Allen his powers repeated itself, bathing West in electrically charged chemicals. Now possessing the same powers as his uncle, West donned a copy of his uncle’s outfit and became the young crime fighter Kid Flash. After the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, where Barry Allen was killed, Wally took over as the fastest man alive. Following the events of Infinite Crisis, Wally, his wife Linda, and their twins left Earth for an unknown dimension.

Wally, his wife and twins were pulled back from the Speed Force by the Legion of Super-Heroes at the conclusion of The Lightning Saga.[9] This set the stage for Wally West’s return as the Flash after the events of The Flash: Fastest Man Alive #13 (see Bart Allen), in All Flash #1, and with The Flash (vol. 2) series, which resumed with issue #231 in August 2007. It subsequently ended with issue #247, and West, along with all the other Flash characters, will play a large role in 2009’s The Flash: Rebirth[8]

[edit] Bart Allen
Main article: Bart Allen
Artwork for the cover of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1 (Aug, 2006). Featuring Bart Allen with art by Andy Kubert and Joe Kubert.

Bartholomew Henry “Bart” Allen II was the grandson of Barry Allen and his wife Iris. Bart suffered from accelerated aging and, as a result, was raised in a virtual reality machine until Iris took him back in time in order to get help from the then-current Flash, Wally West. With Wally’s help, Bart’s aging slowed and he took the name Impulse. After he was shot in the kneecap by Deathstroke, Bart changed both his attitude and his costume, taking the mantle of Kid Flash. During the events of Infinite Crisis, the Speed Force vanished, taking with it all the speedsters save Jay Garrick. Bart returned, four years older, and for a year claimed that he was depowered from the event. However, the Speed Force had not disappeared completely, but had been absorbed into Bart’s body; essentially, he now contained all of the Speed Force.

Bart’s costume as the Flash was a clone of his grandfather’s similarly stylized to Wally West’s. Not long after taking the mantle of the Flash, Bart was killed by the Rogues in the 13th and final issue of The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. However, he was later resurrected in the 31st Century in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #3 by Brainiac 5 to combat Superboy-Prime and the Legion of Super-Villains. Writer Geoff Johns confirmed that Bart will return to the past and play a large role in The Flash: Rebirth[10]

[edit] Others to carry the mantle of the Flash

[edit] Jesse Chambers
Main article: Jesse Chambers

Daughter of the speedster Johnny Quick, Jesse Chambers became a speeding superhero like her father. She later met Wally West, the Flash, who would ask her to be his replacement if something were to happen to him (as part of an elaborate plan on his part, trying to force Bart Allen to take his role in the legacy of the Flash more seriously). She briefly assumes the mantle of the Flash, after Wally enters the Speed Force. [11]

[edit] Unnamed Allen of the 23rd Century

The father of Sela Allen, his wife and daughter were captured by Cobalt Blue. He was forced to watch his wife die and his daughter become crippled. As he and Max Mercury killed Cobalt Blue, a child took the gem and killed Allen. This Flash was one of the two destined Flashes to be killed by Cobalt Blue.

[edit] Sela Allen
Sela Allen as the Flash of the 23rd century.

Sela Allen is an ordinary human in the 23rd century until Cobalt Blue steals electrical impulses away from her, causing her to become as slow to the world as the world is to the Flash. Hoping to restore her, her father takes her into the Speed Force. When her father is killed, she appears as a living manifestation of the Speed Force, able to lend speed to various people and objects, but unable to physically interact with the world.[3]

[edit] John Fox
John Fox as the Flash.

When Manfred Mota resurfaced in the 27th century, John Fox, a tachyon scientist, traveled back in time to gain aid from the three Flashes who had defeated Manfred before. He failed to make contact, but the time travel left him with superspeed.[3] He used a combination of various previous Flash costumes to create his own costume. After defeating Mota, he was sidelined by the invention of Speed Metal. He began searching the timestream for a time where he could belong, briefly replacing a time-displaced Wally West in the 20th century before finally settling in the year 85,265 where he joined the Justice Legion. In issue #2 of the 2007 Booster Gold series, there is a panel depicting Dr. Thirteen’s group breaking the fourth wall by complaining about the Architects’ only using popular “fellows” in new comics; John Fox was mentioned by name.

[edit] Blaine Allen
Blaine Allen as the Flash of the 28th century.

Blaine and his son lived on the colony world of Petrus in the 28th century. In an attempt to end the Allen blood line, Cobalt Blue injected Allen’s son Jace with a virus. Lacking super speed, Jace was unable to shake off the virus. In despair, Blaine took his son to the Speed Force in the hopes that it would accept him. It took Blaine instead, and gave super speed to Jace so that he could shake off the sickness.

[edit] Jace Allen

Jace Allen gained superspeed when his father brought him into the Speed Force to attempt to cure him of a virus injected into his body by Cobalt Blue in an attempt to end the Allen bloodline. In memory of his father, Jace took up the mantle of the Flash and continued the feud against Cobalt Blue.

[edit] Kryad

After an alien creature invaded Earth, a history buff named Kryad traveled back in time from the 98th Century to acquire a GL power ring. He failed, so he tried to capture the Flash’s speed instead. After being beaten by Barry Allen (The Flash (vol. 1) #309, May 1982), he went back further in time and used the chemicals from the clothes Barry Allen was wearing when he gained his powers. Kryad gave his life to defeat the alien creature.

[edit] Alternate versions
Tanaka Rei from Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths. Art by Paul Ryan and Bob McLeod.

In the final issue of 52, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated “Earth-2”. As a result of Mister Mind “eating” aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-2, including the Flash among other Justice Society of America characters. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but the Flash is visually similar to the Jay Garrick Flash.[12] Based on comments by Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-2.[13]

A variant of the Flash – a superfast college student named Mary Maxwell – was seen in the Elseworld book Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating The Flash.

[edit] Tanaka Rei

The Flash of Earth-D, Rei was a Japanese man who idolized Barry Allen, whose stories only existed in comic books on this world. Rei was inspired by Allen to become the Flash, much like Allen was inspired to become the Flash by his idol, Jay Garrick. Allen and Rei met during the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” when Barry was coming back from the 30th century and arrived in the wrong universe. As Earth-D was under attack by the shadow demons, Barry called on the Justice League and Tanaka called on the Justice Alliance, his world’s version of the Justice League. They built a cosmic treadmill and were able to evacuate much of Earth-D’s population. The Justice League left, but 39 seconds later, Earth-D perished.

Rei made his only appearance in Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths (February 1999). The story was written by Marv Wolfman, with art by Paul Ryan (pencils) and Bob McLeod (ink).

[edit] Lia Nelson
Lia Nelson, the Tangent reality’s Flash

The young, female Flash of the Tangent Universe is not a speedster, but instead “the first child born in space” and a being made up of and able to control light. As a side effect, she can move at the speed of light, which actually makes her faster than most of the other Flashes, as only Wally West has ever survived a light-speed run without becoming trapped in the Speed Force.[14] She recently reappeared in Justice League of America #16, somehow summoned out of the paper ‘green lantern’ of her universe – an artifact that survived the Crisis that erased the Tangent Universe from existence.[15] Lia Nelson also appeared in Countdown: Arena battling two versions of the Flash from other Earths within the Multiverse.[16] In the 52-Earth Multiverse, the Tangent Universe is designated Earth-9.

[edit] Superman & Batman: Generations 2

In Superman & Batman: Generations 2, three different Flashes appear: Wally West as Kid Flash in 1964, Wally’s cousin Carrie as Kid Flash in 1986, and Jay West, the son of Wally and his wife Magda as the fifth Flash in 2008. Barry Allen makes a cameo appearance out of costume in 1964.

[edit] Powers and abilities
This article may contain original research or unverified claims. Please improve the article by adding references. See the talk page for details. (October 2007)

All incarnations of the Flash can move, think, react at superhuman speeds, vibrate so fast that they can walk through walls, travel through time and can also lend and borrow speed. Furthermore, all members have an invisible aura around their bodies that prevents themselves and their clothes from being affected by air friction as they move at high speed.

On several occasions, the Flash has been shown in various races against Superman to determine which one is faster (or as part of a mutual effort to thwart some type of threat); these races, however, often resulted in ties because of outside circumstances. However, after the DC Universe revision after Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Flash does successfully beat Superman in a race in Adventures of Superman #463 with the explanation that Superman is unused to running at high speed for extended periods of time since flying is more versatile and less strenuous, which means the far more practiced Flash has the advantage.

Speedsters may at times use the ability to speed-read at incredible rates and in doing so, process vast amounts of information. Whatever knowledge they acquire in this manner is usually temporary (Bart Allen seems to be the exception, though in earlier years, Max Mercury believed that Bart’s speed learning would not stick).

Flashes and other super-speedsters also have the ability to speak to one another at a highly accelerated rate. This is often done to have private conversations in front of non-fast people (as when Flash speaks to Superman about his ability to serve both the Titans and the JLA in The Titans #2). Speed-talking is also sometimes used for comedic effect where Flash becomes so excited that he begins talking faster and faster until his words become a jumble of noise (Wally West once became so surprised that he generated a small sonic boom with his voice).

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